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02.12.14

Now Might be a Good Time to Give Arch Linux a Try

Posted in GNU/Linux at 12:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Archlinux

Summary: Recent analysis of Arch Linux, a fast-growing distribution of GNU/Linux which is developed by a broad community

Arch Linux 2014.02.01 was very recently released [1], building on top of good tradition of flexibility like Debian’s (MATE is now available in Arch Linux [2,3]). Some Ubuntu (and formerly Xandros) users rave about Arch Linux [4] and some longtime users provide a rather objective, balanced analysis [5]. For some [6], including former Microsoft employees [7], Manjaro Linux is a simpler route to embracing Arch Linux [8]. In any event, now that the first 2014 release of Arch Linux is out [9] the distribution might be worth exploring. The userbase is growing rapidly and the reviews are mostly positive. It offers a wide diversity of desktop environments, very much like Gentoo or Debian. It’s not run by a large company and development is very much decentralised, as it probably ought to be (favouring development, not management). This is a ‘true’ community distribution.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Arch Linux 2014.02.01 Is Now Available for Download

    Additionally, Arch Linux 2014.02.01 includes all the updated packages that were released during the past month, January 2014. As usual, existing Arch Linux users don’t need this new ISO image, as it’s only intended for those of you who want to install Arch Linux on new machines.

  2. MATE Is Now Officially Available In Arch Linux
  3. MATE is officially available in Arch Linux
  4. Ubuntu vs. Rolling Release Distributions

    Here in my office, I have two different desktops running Linux. One is running Arch Linux and the other is running Ubuntu. Both distributions are fully up to date, with Ubuntu running the latest release. Each desktop has its assigned tasks throughout my work day, with the Arch box serving as my daily use PC for most work.

    [...]

    I’ve relied on Ubuntu for years now. I enjoy the fact that it has a strong support community, access to any Linux software I might want to run, plus it’s very simple to setup. And if you need a recent version of a software in Ubuntu, usually you have the option of adding an Ubuntu PPA (Personal Package Archive) so the new software title can be installed. Because of its ease of use and software availability, Ubuntu users won’t find themselves wanting for a Linux software title enjoyed on other distributions.

  5. Opinion: Arch Linux and Stability

    Arch Linux, the popular rolling release Linux distribution, seemingly has a reputation as bleeding edge, elitist and sometimes unstable. Bleeding edge? Most seem to agree it is. Elitist? I’ll leave that to you to decide. Unstable? Perhaps, perhaps not, which is what I will now try to give my take on it as a full time Arch Linux user.

  6. Manjaro Smooths Out Arch’s Rough Edges

    The difficulties I encountered installing and running Manjaro would normally have pushed me to part company with this distro — I must assume that the rather rapid development cycles and the number of different desktop environments in the fray caused some quality control issues. To my pleasure, however, all of the editions that ran on my laptops found the wireless connection without any trouble.

  7. Manjaro, Arch, and Debian
  8. The Rising Light Desktop

    You don’t necessarily have to run Manjaro Linux to get the same effect here, but Dobbie03 does note that he’s had a great experience with it—it’s been rock solid, according to him, so if you’re looking for a new distro to try, it might be worth a look.

  9. Arch Linux’s First Release of 2014 Is Available for Download

KDE Watch: KDE in the Spotlight, New KDE 4.12 Release

Posted in GNU/Linux, KDE at 12:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Some recent KDE news, including two new releases and a lot of application updates

  • KDE Plasma at the movies
  • KDE plasma was used in creation of Oscar nominee Gravity!

    KDE Software has always enjoyed undisputed reputation among the Open Source users; its desktop environment continues to get voted as one of the most popular and widely used DE. KDE SC is not limited to home users, it’s used by organizations around the globe.

  • KDE 4.12.2 and 4.11.6 Officially Released with More than 20 Bugfixes

    Today, February 4, the KDE Project has announced, as expected, the second maintenance release for the stable KDE 4.12 Applications and Development Platform, as well as the sixth maintenance release of the KDE 4.11 Plasma Workspaces.

  • KDE 4.12.2 Released Along With Plasma WS 4.11.6
  • KDE Ships February Updates to Applications and Platform

    Today KDE released updates for its Applications and Development Platform, the second in a series of monthly stabilization updates to the 4.12 series. This release also includes an updated Plasma Workspaces 4.11.6. Both releases contain only bugfixes and translation updates; providing a safe and pleasant update for everyone.

  • KDE Software Compilation 4.12.2 available in the stable repositories

    KDE’s second update of its 4.12 series of Workspaces, Applications and Development Platform is now available in the stable repositories.

  • KDE Desktop vs. GNOME Apps: The Great Paradox

    A paradox lies at the center of the Linux desktop today. For all their limitations, reader polls consistently show that KDE is the single most popular desktop, preferred by just under a third of users. Yet at the same time, 40-45% use a desktop that sits on top of GNOME technology, such as GNOME3, Cinnamon, Mate, or Unity.

  • New Touchpad management app in Kubuntu 14.04

    The new app replaces the old Synaptiks touchpad management app and has many more buttons and settings that you can twiddle and tweak to get the best experience. The Kubuntu team would like to thank Alexander Mezin for working on this replacement app as part of his GSoC project. The package comes complete with its own plasmoid for easy access to enable and disable touchpads! Quite useful for folks who don’t have a physical hardware button to Enable/Disable touchpads

  • First look at cockpit, a web based server management interface

    The web page also states three aims: beginners friendly interface, multi server management – and that there should be no interference in mixed usage of web interface and shell. Especially the last point caught my attention: many other web based solutions introduce their own magic, thus making it sometimes tricky to co-administrate the system manually via the shell. The listed objectives also make clear that cockpit does not try to replace tools that go much deeper into the configuration of servers, like Webmin, which for example offers modules to configure Apache servers in a quite detailed manner. Cockpit tries to simply administrate the server, not the applications. I must admit that I would always do such a application configuration manually anyway…

  • Homerun 1.2.0

    The main addition in Homerun 1.2.0 is a second interface built atop Homerun’s collection of data sources, the Homerun Kicker launcher menu shown above. Unlike the first Homerun interface, which is designed for use on the full screen or desktop background and meant to be both mouse- and finger-friendly (you can check it out here if you’re new to Homerun or just need a memory boost), Homerun Kicker is a more traditional launcher menu design optimized for efficient use by mouse or touchscreen when placed on a panel.

  • kate: intelligent code completion for all languages!
  • KDE Commit-Digest for 12th January 2014
  • Removing/Disabling The Semantic Deskop in KDE4 (and firing up Thunderbird) Part 1

    As a result of the first article on KMail, three things emerged. First, while some users may like the semantic desktop, there is serious dislike for the semantic desktop (as has been implemented in KDE4) amongst a considerable number of other users, and these people set about disabling the software in various ways. Second, why does the implementation of the semantic desktop produce such apparent deterioration in the performance of the KDE4 desktop and what happens if you try to remove it altogether ? Third, what are some possible solutions ? This second article tries to explore those three items.

  • KMail Complexity – and a little Patience

    This article considers some problems I had when I tried to set up and use the latest version of what I still consider is a superb email client: KMail. I believe that this package is no longer intended for the “stand-alone” user, but is firmly aimed at multi-user networks. Attention is also drawn to another far less important but still extensively used KDE4 package, the patience card-game software which I believe has been degraded due to over-development.

  • Leveraging the Power of Choice

    That was exactly what I had in mind (and I assume Àlex as well), and it would be a great way to leverage one of Plasma’s biggest strengths: Flexibility, which offers choice! Of course maintaining multiple Plasmoids for the same purpose also means multiplied work, but not all Plasmoids have to be created by the core Plasma team. Everyone can write a Plasmoid for a certain purpose, add the X-Plasma-Provides line to the desktop file and thereby plug it right into this system! With this in place, whenever a user complains that a Plasmoid is either too complex or offers too little choice and an alternative exists, we can point them to it and they can easily switch.

  • Nitrux Develops an ARM Mini-Computer Called QtBox, Powered by KDE

    The developer of the beautiful and attractive Nitrux, Compass, and Flatter icon themes is preparing an ARM mini-computer called QtBox and designed to be portable, small (8.8cm x 8.8cm x 8.3cm), running the Nitrux 1.0 operating system and using the eye-candy KDE 4.12 desktop environment.

  • QupZilla 1.6.1 QtWebKit Browser Adds New Features

    Moreover, this new stable release of QupZilla fixes speed dial issues when JavaScript was disabled, fixes tab tooltips display issues when tab previews were disabled, repairs search shortcuts that are longer than one character in the address bar, allows users to disable tab previews from the preferences dialog, and fixes building against the new GNOME and KDE keyring passwords.

  • Maintenance–The Achilles Heel of Linux

    One of the great things about KDE theming is the fact that the middle man is cut out of the deal. Many theming features invite you to browse different theming possibilities right where you sit. You don’t have to find the websites and the themes; KDE is built to let you choose those things right inside the app. This is pretty cool. From there you can download and install it right from the same GUI.

  • New in kdepim 4.13: SieveEditor

    As usual I try to improve sieve support in KMail.
    In 4.9, I fixed the dialogbox for managing them.
    In 4.10, I added a good text editor with highlighting and auto-completion.
    In 4.11, I added a dialogbox for generating sieve code directly (like kmail filter dialogbox)
    In 4.12 I added sieve script parsing and an UI to create sieve script even if you didn’t know sieve language.

  • KDevelop / Kate sprint in Barcelona in January 2014

    Last week I have been in Barcelona at the KDevelop / Kate sprint with all the other nice people working on those projects. As always, it was very cool to meet everyone again and spend a week together improving software. A big thanks to the organizers and sponsors, too!

GNOME Watch: Despite New Delays, The GNOME Desktop Excites

Posted in GNOME, GNU/Linux at 12:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Impressions of GNOME 3, GNOME 3.12, Wayland-induced delays, Fedora 20 GNOME, GNOME raves, and a lot of new application releases

GNU/Linux Desktop Environments Continue to Multiply

Posted in GNOME, GNU/Linux, KDE at 12:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A look at some recent developments around lesser-known desktop environments for GNU/Linux, including brand new ones

THE “BIG THREE”, namely GNOME, KDE, and XFCE, are not the only games in town. Now we have Defora [1], Moonlight [2], and Ome [3], not to mention LXLE [4,5] and Enlightenment, which recently released E18 [6-8] and will soon release E19 [9]. There are several other desktop environments that continues to be developed, whereas several perished over the years.

Speaking for myself, I recently switched from KDE to Enlightenment on the desktop where I write articles. Enlightenment is a fantastic desktop environment even for relatively new desktops, especially if memory becomes a constraint and speed can use some significant improvement. There are bugs, sure, as well as ‘missing’ features, but this desktop environment which I used regularly over a decade ago is still very light and powerful. Without it, I would have no choice but to cope with bloat, pretty much like in Microsoft and Apple land.

People who claim that GNU/Linux offers not much of real choice because it’s all about KDE, GNOME and some desktop bundles that are no longer maintained (or have been stale for a decade or two) are simply not looking hard enough. It can be rewarding for everyone to experience many environments on mobile (GNU/)Linux and even on desktops (like Unity); the more, the merrier. This attracts develops because it fosters creativity and self expression. To emancipate ourselves from GUI tyrannies (Apple is the worst in that regard) we need to explore alternatives environments, just as we do in many walks of life.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Defora Provides Yet Another Open-Source Desktop

    If you have not yet found the perfect open-source desktop match for your needs, the desktop environment born out of DeforaOS is yet another option. This desktop environment is built using GTK2 and part of a larger effort to provide “ubiquitous, secure and transparent access to one’s resources” and to work regardless of form factor.

  2. Moonlight: Yet Another Linux Desktop Environment

    Moonlight is a project still in its early stages and likely will fade away like the many other third-party desktop environments with limited manpower and scope. Moonlight Desktop is trying to be a lightweight desktop for the Raspberry Pi and other low-powered, low-end, old devices — similar in scope to Xfce, LXDE, Enlightenment, etc. They really don’t seem to be far along at all right now and are still working towards an appearance for their desktop.

  3. Ome: A New Cross-Platform Desktop Environment

    Originally the developer behind Ome was set out on making his own operating system and was thinking of using LLVM IR for its application binary while making the packages like Android’s APK files. He had posted to the LLVM mailing list last month for feedback on these plans but now today he’s posted a new LLVM mailing list message.

  4. LXLE Gives New Zest to Old Machines

    I have not been a happy user of Ubuntu since the shift to the Unity desktop. Even the Lubuntu version has some bothersome Ubuntu traits attached. Enter the LXLE distro with its Lubuntu-less appearance. It provides a Long Term Support advantage over using Lubuntu and has a larger and more useful default application set. Even on poorly endowed hardware, this distro boots in less than 1 minute.

  5. LXLE 12.04.4 officially released.
  6. Enlightenment 0.18.3 Release Allows the Use of Elementary 1.9 or Later

    The development team behind the Enlightenment project, an open source, powerful, lightweight, and eye-candy desktop environment for the X window system has announced the third maintenance release of the stable Enlightenment 0.18 branch, which includes various fixes and improvements.

  7. Enlightenment DR 18 Released
  8. Enlightenment DR 0.18 Released

    Just one year after the long-time coming official release of Enlightenment 0.17 (E17), Enlightenment 0.18 has been released!

  9. Enlightenment E19 Going Into Feature Freeze Soon

    The freeze for E19 will begin in one month, on 28 Feb 2014. After that point, I am likely to reject most* requests for feature additions, and I will be shifting into release mode.

Skynet Watch: From Targeting Terrorists to Targeting Protesters and From Foreign to Domestic

Posted in Law at 10:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Rapid exacerbation of human rights, with surveillance-based torture and assassination that expand in terms of scope

  • Utah lawmaker floats bill to cut off NSA data centre’s water supply

    Impending bill from Republican Marc Roberts highlights growing movement at state level against government surveillance powers

  • IBM’s Rometty Rebuilds Trust in China After NSA Scandal
  • Obama reforms for NSA ‘limited’, says ex-NSA chief

    The former head of the CIA and the National Security Agency, General Michael Hayden has said that the reforms recently announced by president Barack Obama to tackle mass surveillance are limited, as they allow the spy agency “a pretty big box” in which to continue to operate.

    Hayden was reported by the Guardian as speaking at an Oxford University lecture, when he said that while some of the reforms would be onerous for the NSA, the agency still had room to manoeuvre, enabling it to continue to collect metadata.

  • The NSA’s top 10 scariest intrusions

    According to documents published by German newspaper Der Spiegel, the NSA uses a tactic called “method interdiction,” which intercepts packages that are en route to the recipient. Malware or backdoor-enabling hardware is installed in workshops by agents and the item then continues on its way to the customer.

  • Rand Paul to sue Obama administration over NSA

    Sen. Rand Paul will sue President Barack Obama and top officials in the National Security Agency over surveillance.

  • U.S. share of cloud computing likely to drop after NSA revelations

    When the German version of the FBI needs to share sensitive information these days, it types it up and has it hand-delivered.

    This time last year, it would have trusted in the security of email. But last year was before Edward Snowden and the public revelations of the scope of the National Security Agency’s PRISM electronic intelligence-gathering program. After Snowden, or post-PRISM, is a new digital world.

  • Programmers Across the Country Are Self-Organizing to Protest NSA Surveillance

    If you visit sites such as Upworthy, Hacker News, BoingBoing or around 5,000 other sites today, you’ll notice an odd headline: a banner stating “Today We Fight Back.” The banner runs a loop of facts about the NSA’s internet and phone surveillance activities, such as “The NSA is regularly tracking hundreds of millions of devices.”

  • The NSA Puts Journalists Under a Cloud of Suspicion

    In fall 2013, the U.S. National Security Agency quietly began booting up its Utah Data Center, a sprawling 1.5 million-square-foot facility designed to store and analyze the vast amounts of electronic data the spy agency gathers from around the globe. Consisting of four low-slung data halls and a constellation of supporting structures, the facility includes at least 100,000 square feet of the most advanced data reservoirs in the world. The project represents a massive expansion of the NSA’s capabilities and a profound threat to press freedom worldwide.

  • World Protests against NSA with More than 100,000 Participants

    At least 117,000 websites and citizens of the world joined a world day of rejection to the massive surveillance in Internet by the National Security Agency of the United States (NSA) and its allied from other countries.

  • NSA protest stirs up memories of AT&T spying scandal

    It was a walk down memory lane for Mark Klein on Tuesday night, when a crowd gathered to hear him speak out, yet again, about the secret sharing of data between a top communications company and the US government.

    Klein, a retired AT&T technician, leaked several internal AT&T documents in 2006 that showed that the NSA was collecting data from AT&T through a restricted room, 641A.

  • Internet of Things, Part 1: God’s Gift to the NSA
  • NSA denies all requests for personal information

    The Freedom of Information Act requires a release, but the spy agency says it is excluded due to national security concerns.

  • Surprisingly mild reaction to NSA surveillance

    One of the legacies 2013 will leave behind, as Andrea Peterson wrote recently in The Washington Post, is that it was “the year that proved your paranoid friend right.” Since January of last year, we’ve learned that the National Security Agency is collecting massive amounts of phone call metadata, emails, location information of cell phones and is even listening to Xbox Live. Shocking as this obviously was to me, as a citizen of the country of “We the People,” one founded on civil liberties, what was perhaps more shocking was how mild the reaction of many Americans was. While polls showed that a small majority of U.S. citizens opposed the NSA’s collection of phone and Internet usage data, after months of reassurances by the President that the programs would be reformed and used responsibly, the numbers seem to have changed (or at least, the story seems to be dying down).

  • Pakistan government ordered to bring anti-drone activist to court

    A court in Pakistan on Wednesday ordered authorities to produce an anti-drone activist abducted just days before he was due to travel to Europe to meet lawmakers, in a case that spotlights citizens’ distrust of the unmanned aircraft and government security forces.

  • U.S. mulls drone strike on American terrorist suspect in Pakistan
  • Documentary on drone use showing at UU Fellowship

    “Unmanned” reports the impacts of drone strategy. This documentary directed by Robert Greenwald, investigates drone strikes at home and abroad through more than 70 separate interviews, including a former American drone operator who shares what he has witnessed in his own words, Pakistani families mourning loved ones and seeking legal redress, investigative journalists pursuing the truth and top military officials warning against blowback from the loss of innocent life.

  • Obama’s kill list may expand to include more Americans: Lawyer

    “If indeed there is mulling over the possibility of assassinating another American citizen abroad, really what they should be telling the American people is that we’re moving into an era where state-sanctioned assassinations of people is becoming routine and there is no reason for the American people to expect that this will not develop to the point where Americans are routinely targeted in America,” he added.

  • Protest of the day: Activists target Amazon over CIA alliance

    Tuesday’s protest included a blockade of the South Lake Union Streetcar, with activists holding a banner that read: CIAmazon. That was in reference to Amazon Web Services’ partnership with the CIA, and it comes a day after protesters blocked a Microsoft Connector bus on Capitol Hill on Monday.

  • Obama’s kill list may expand to include more Americans: Lawyer

    MKUltra also enjoyed the help of ex-Nazi scientists.

  • Poland extends CIA prison probe

    The attorney general has extended the deadline till June of the six year old investigation into allegations that a CIA prison was operated in Poland, where terrorist suspects were held and tortured.

  • Doctors collaborated in tortures in CIA’s military jails

    Independent research published recently contains revealing facts about the involvement of doctors and other health professionals in tortures in military jails of the USA.

  • Ex-CIA Director Woolsey Goes Off the Rails

    Last week it was reported that former CIA Director James Woolsey, forced to resign during the Clinton administration for his bungling of the Aldrich Ames affair, was going around telling people that the reason Jonathan Pollard, the notorious Israeli spy, was still in prison after 29 years is because the U.S. government is anti-Semitic. In short, Pollard remains in prison because he’s a Jew.

  • The CIA Helped Build the Content Farm That Churns Out American Literature

    According to Wikipedia, a content farm is an organization that employs large numbers of “writers to generate large amounts of textual content which is specifically designed to satisfy algorithms for maximal retrieval by automated search engines.” In a way, the American MFA system, spearheaded by the infamous Iowa Writer’s Workshop, is a content farm, too—one initially designed to satisfy a much less complicated algorithm sculpted by the CIA to maximize the spread of anti-Communist propaganda through highbrow literature.

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